Farm Focus: Switching Gears for Stone Fruit Season

The last few weeks there has been a palpable change on the farm as we switch gears for summer stone fruit season. You can feel the excitement in groups of people huddled around the box of the first cherries coming in from the orchard, tasting the newest varieties and admiring their beauty.  It Is an exciting time of year, to say the least!
While you might think that the busiest part of the year is summer when the fruit is ripe but, according to Farmer Al, it takes just as much work to get ready as it does harvesting. The only time that the farm isn’t busy is when it is too wet to get into the orchard and we had a lot of that this winter, so we are playing catch up right now. Farming requires a huge amount of patience but a lot of work too, so we aren’t just waiting around for fruit to ripen! A tremendous amount of hand labor goes into what we do at Frog Hollow Farm. The way to deliver quality fruit is having quality people on our team so we are busy building morale, training folks and getting the farm ready for another great season.
Our Orchard Crew is divided into three important teams that are working hard to get the trees ready for harvest. Water, of course, is an important part of making sure trees produce the best fruit and grow properly. The Ground Team spends the first half their day moving irrigation system to water 8-10 acres per day. The rest of their day is spent mowing cover crop (what other people might call weeds) to make sure we can get to the trees easily. The mowed cover crop will also act as mulch on the ground for the hot summer ahead. Our Tree Team, with the help of some of the amazing women who work in the packing shed later in the season, are working to thin out the bumper crop of peaches and plums. The Tractor Team is busy making sure that the trees have everything need nutritionally to produce delicious fruit and are working to protect them from any pests that might damage the fruit itself. We use organic sprays to prevent damage from insects like peach twig borer and also hang pheromone traps to disrupt the mating habits of other pests. We love compost at Frog Hollow Farm and while it is a great long-term fertilizer, this time of year we use a technique called foliar feeding. The Tractor Team sprays fertilizers directly onto the leaves of the tree where it can be absorbed more quickly.
It’s not just our staff that has to be a well-oiled machine – our equipment does too! The Packing Shed Team is busy cleaning and oiling the moving and mechanical parts of our packing lines and training staff on how to pack and grade all of our varieties of fruit for different purposes. Once fruit is graded it will be passed onto kitchen, retail and farmers market teams for handling. Fruit that heads to our Farm Kitchen, for instance, might head to the drying yard or into the kitchen to become a pie, processed into conserves or frozen for use later in the year. Recently they have been recipe testing different tomato sauces for this year’s crop!
We hope you are enjoying the cherries as much as we are and we’re looking forward to a great season ahead!

Posted in Blog Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recent Posts